Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Newbie Librarians = Published Writers?

One commenter asked how those who are new to the library profession can get published. I know there are a lot of new librarians out there who share this individual's concerns.

Some common issues include:

1. Lack of professional connections
2. Feeling like one doesn't have enough "authority"
3. Inability to narrow to a write-able topic and do scholarly, reputable research

As a new librarian, I have found that joining ALA's New Member Roundtable (NMRT) can help start breaking down the barriers of #1 and #2. NMRT has an NMRT-L listserv that new librarians can join (but I think you have to be a member of ALA). The NMRT-L usually announces calls for publication in upcoming print and online journals and newsletters relating to librarianship, such as NMRT Footnotes. Calls for conference presentations are also listed, which can sometimes lead to publishing articles in print proceedings. I also recently discovered the NMRT New Writers List (NMRTWriter), which you can find by scrolling to the bottom of this internet page.

If you don't want to pay for an ALA membership (it can be pretty pricey!), then maybe join some of the other library listservs, and ask around, maybe to former professors (the tenured ones are usually published) or seasoned librarians that you work with. If anyone from either of those groups is reading this blog, I'm all ears...perhaps you know of strategies I haven't covered.

As far as being able to narrow your topic (#3), choose a niche that interests you. The nice thing about librarianship is that it has a lot of little niches, where a lot of us "Jack of all Trades, Master of Nothings" can still excel. After choosing a niche, do a review of the literature and see what has already been published about it. This will accomplish the following:
-You won't steal anyone else's idea
-You can find an area in this niche that hasn't yet been explored and do your own
scholarly research (think back to library school when you were assigned those "Action
Research" proposals and how you went about gathering info).

I hope I've sufficiently answered your questions. I wrote all of this very quickly, and there are probably some stones I left unturned.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Writer Librarian

I started this blog to help librarians who want to be published. Whether you are an academic librarian looking for tenure, or you surround yourself with poetry and prose in the hopes of writing your own book, you fall into this category. I am sure there are many of us.

This is a place where librarians who want to be published can ask questions, and where librarians who are already published can pass on some wisdom to the rest of us. Writing can be a tricky business, and we should help one another.

One of the best tips I've received is to write as simply as possible. Clear the clutter. I read an article in the November 2008 issue of Communication Briefings that discussed writing to the lowest common denominator. Basically, it is better to be understood by as many people as possible instead of using smart-sounding words that no one knows the meaning of. (Yes, you scholarly types, that means you.)

This goes hand-in-hand with eliminating unecessary words in a sentence. Instead of writing "I feel that it is important for librarians to meet the needs of users," it is clearer and more concise to write, "Librarians should meet the needs of users." Go ahead, give it a try. Look over something you've wrote, and see if you can eliminate words while still retaining the meaning you want to convey.

-The Writer Librarian